Wed
Jul 21 2010 1:21pm
I Speak for the Trolls

I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a new paranormal series, in addition to the Guardians of Destiny series.

The prospect of starting a new project is always exciting, but before brainstorming characters and plots, I thought it’d be wise to check in with my agent, knowing she’d have intel on what my publisher is looking for. You don’t want to spend your time writing proposals for leprechaun stories when editors want mermaids, you know?

My agent: Your editor said they don’t need more vampires or demons, but everything else is fair game.

Me, excited: Awesome! Because I have this idea I’ve been toying with. I think it could be really great.

My agent, growing excited too: Really? What is it?

Me, proudly: Trolls.

My agent: ...

Me: Think about it. Trolls are seriously under-represented in popular literature.

My agent: ...

Me: Hello? Are you still there? Did the call drop?

My agent: No, I’m here.

Me: You were blown away by the thought of a series about a family of trolls, weren’t you? No one’s written about trolls yet. We’d be the first.

My agent: Kate, there may be a reason for that.

Me: Like that no one is as brilliant as us?

My agent: More like that trolls aren’t sexy.

Me, taken aback: Who says they aren’t sexy?

My agent, using her diplomatic voice: Well, classically they live under bridges and are known to be foul-tempered. They aren’t known for being hot.

Me: I think I can create a hot troll.

My agent: If anyone could, it’d be you, Kate. But while I think all your ideas are fantastic, I’m not sure other people will see your genius. Why don’t we brainstorm some other ideas, just in case?

Needless to say, I’m a little bummed.

Wouldn’t you read a story about a troll? Or is there another little-represented flavor of paranormal you’d like to see more? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Troll photo manipulation by Doug Wildman


As a little girl, Kate Perry dreamt of many things. Like becoming a ninja. Dressing up in black and carrying a big sword? Seemed like a no brainer. However, Fate had other plans for her, and she studied Kung Fu San Soo instead. A Kung Fu Master, Kate now has more weapons than she ever imagined—including several swords.

She lives in San Francisco. Voted by her friends as the woman they’d most want to stroll with down a dark alley, Kate’s as likely to be spotted at the opera as she is doing tai chi in Golden Gate Park. Usually wearing black—in both cases. You can also find her at her website or on Twitter.

This article is part of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Month: ‹ previous | index | next ›
35 comments
Justin T.
1. Justin T.
I'll bet people thought Ogres weren't "sexy" until Shrek. A couple billion in gross later...

I say write about trolls.
Justin T.
2. mbg
Kate Perry: Don't give up! I'd like to see stories about trolls.

Robin McKinley wrote a lovely short story with a troll love interest. It is "Touk's House" and is in several anthologies. I love it!

Her story 'The Stone Fey' also features a troll-like being.

Doesn't Terry Pratchett's Discworld have trolls as well?
Justin T.
3. mbg
Ooops, maybe some of the above are ogres. (I tend to get the two mixed up.)
Justin T.
4. Ken St. Andre
Some of us have been writing about trolls and making them resjpected, if not glamorous, for decades now. By all means, Kate, write some trolls, but be sure to do your research first. Popular misconceptions about trolls based on 3 billy goats gruff is not enough to start a series.

So yes, more trolls are needed. Are you first to do them sympathetically? No. Sorry about that. Ask John Vornhold about his Troll King series or Nancy Farmer about the Sea of Trolls. Follow trollgodfather on twitter and see what has been done already.
Justin T.
5. Z Camelopardalis
Well, of course!

Aside from your valid point that trolls are under-represented, good writing is good writing. If wombats can be vitally interesting, then trolls can be surely be sexy.

Just no sparkles, please.
Ashe Armstrong
6. AsheSaoirse
I would be all about that. "Just no sparkles, please", indeed!
Elizabeth Coleman
7. elizabethcoleman
Holly Black beat you to it in Valiant. Great book.
Paul Howard
8. DrakBibliophile
Yep, make the Troll 'monsterous in appearance' and the good guy.

Maybe have him protecting the human girl from the "sexy evil" elves.
Rikka Cordin
9. Rikka
ahh, someone beat me to the Valiant punch. Holly Black did it decently and John Vornhold did it better.

But by all means, more trolls!
Angela Korra'ti
10. annathepiper
I'd be perfectly happy with less emphasis on whether a particular supernatural creature is "sexy" and whether the story he or she is starring in is awesome, myself. :)
John Ruschmeyer
11. jruschme
Someone mentioned elves...

Now all I can think of is some kind of paranormal retelling of Cyrano with Cyrano as a troll and Christian as an elf.
Alex Brown
12. AlexBrown
As long as you stay out of Shrek territory your story should be fine.
James Goetsch
13. Jedikalos
I would so buy an e-book about trolls of the underbridge variety for my Nook (only buy e-books now). Why not write it and offer it for download at five bucks a pop and get all five for yourself? You could even have some sort of neat animated troll that takes the paypal payments.
Noneo Yourbusiness
14. Longtimefan
I think it is a good idea. Just be prepared for the Pro-Goat people to decry your genius.

What do they know, they will eat anything.

(except books where the Trolls are the heroes.)

You could solve one of the great internet mysteries. "How do trolls get DSL under bridges?" I really would like to know.
April Vrugtman
15. dwndrgn
I have no problem with trolls. As someone noted earlier, as long as the story is good I don't care what kind of being (or what sexual orientation or what nationality or whatever) the main character is. I definitely don't care if they are sexy or not either. Good story = good book period.

Just keep giving me more to read ;-)
Sammy Jay
16. Malebolge
Write about a family of manticores, and their snooty pheonix neighbours, who insist on spelling it 'phoenix.'
Other Alias
17. ghostcrab311
Trolls are great - honestly, since the market is oversaturated with vampires and werewolves right now, a different spin would be cool.
Sven Hesse
18. DrMcCoy
Well, there's the band Finntroll, they've written a lot of songs about trolls.
True, they aren't sexy. So what? :P
Justin T.
19. Dholton
What, not one mention of the luscious Tananda the Trollop from the MYTHadventure series? Now there's a sexy Troll for you!
Justin T.
21. soulpromise
I like the idea of a sexy troll series. I believe fans of the genre appreciate new ideas. From the comments, I think it would be fun to expand on the troll/ogre confusions.
Kate Shaw
22. KateShaw
Hey, I'm in the middle of writing an urban fantasy with a troll as the main character! Obviously I'm in touch with the zeitgeist and trolls will be the next big thing.
Church Tucker
23. Church
"A Tale of Two Trolls"

Magic. I promise.
Derek Tan
24. myst44
A lot of trolls in World of Warcraft. :D

How about, a short story for Tor.com, and a poll for troll sexiness.
Justin T.
25. Ramenth
Definitely an interesting idea, though I think World of Warcraft may have killed the Troll market.
Justin T.
26. mirana
Trolls sound fun to me. It's more intriguing than the typical "sexy" races/creatures because those have been done to deeeeath. Hell, I'd even read about ugly trolls. It's a book anyway. If I want to imagine the trolls as sexy anyway, I can. ;)
Justin T.
27. Anassa
I'd definitely read about trolls! I've noticed a sad lack of trolls as well. Been toying with doing something with them too, but only have a kernel of a nugget of an idea.

In terms of sexy trolls … take a look at the Scandinavian legends. They don't have to be ugly, especially not the women.
Jeff LaSala
28. JLaSala
As much as I love the creatures of classic mythology, I'd rather seen new creatures and races invented and given some spotlight. Personally, I think that's where Twilight went wrong. If those were some new creature, not vampires, it might not have been so bad.
Kate Perry
29. Kate_Perry
So you guys are giving trolls a thumbs-up, as long as there are no sparkles. I'm not sure what's wrong with sparkles--if anything, people need more sparkle in their lives--but I'm willing to make that concession.

I'm sending my agent here to read your comments, BTW. ;) Also, I'm TOTALLY using A Tale of Two Trolls.
M Linden
30. mlinden
I would very much love to see a troll-centric story. Something like @jrushme's idea of Cyrano DeBergerac as Troll would be fun^2.

I'd hate to speak for anyone else here, but I'd say the aversion to sparkles points back to the kind of "sexy" that the Twilight Sparkly Vampires represent...Trolls should not be THAT kind of sexy. Any take on Trolls that might involve a shirtless Taylor Lautner posing under a bridge is probably not the take the commenters here have in mind.

That said, if you go with the idea of trolls as silicon-based life-forms made of living stone (Terry Pratchett, among others), you could kind of get away with the sparkly thing, couldn't you? Rocks can be sparkly. Hmm...somethng to consider.
Stephen W
31. Xelgaex
As a follow up to 27, take a look at the Wiki page on trolls, esp. the sections on Jætte and Vitterfolk.
Derek Dominquez
32. fomartorch
As long as it isn't an internet troll it could be quite fun to read.
Justin T.
33. Ken St. Andre
Internet trolls give the rest of us trolls a bad name. Why aren't they called internet dragons? After all, they do cause flame wars.
Paul Howard
34. DrakBibliophile
Because Dragons have more power than trolls. Nobody would dare talk about "internet dragons".

Seriously, "internet trolls" have nothing to do with the fantasy trolls.

"Internet trolls" comes from the fishing term troll and refers to people "trolling for newbies".

Drak, the Book Loving Dragon.
Paul Howard
35. DrakBibliophile
By the way concerning Internet Trolls, Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia (an Oct Baen release) has a new character who is a Fantasy Troll. He is also an Internet Troll.
Justin T.
36. Malengine
Any fan of trolls should also check out Trollhunter (Trolljegeren) not bad for a middling budget horror movie. I would totally read your book about trolls.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLEo7H9tqSM

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